The restaurant formerly known as Quattro Passi rebranded a couple of years ago as QP LDN. That might have been a reaction to some negative press – Jay Rayner certainly sharpened his pencil on the place – or just to keep it all fresh. Regardless, and whatever Jay et all might have said, any restaurant that’s survived this market for three, four years must be doing something right.
The postcode alone gives an indication of what to expect. This is not your humble little, check table cloth trattoria. This is Mayfair doing Mayfair – glitz, glamour, very large prices and loud beautiful people. On that basis it is complete anathema to me – I’m not a fan of loud people or designer food plus, remarkably for one who’s the size of about four thin-and-beautiful people, I appear to be completely invisible to society types: I suspect my lack of designer labels is akin to wearing an invisibility cloak.
Things started in anticipatory fashion. A brief detour from table to the gents required squeezing past a group of bright young things – and their expensively dressed older equivalents – with my usual mantra of “excuse me… excuse me… I’m sorry, could I just… excuse me, excuse me, EXCUSE ME” before just pushing past to the tune of surprised tuts and sighs. “You could have said excuse me,” said one thoroughly indignant chap. Like I say: ironically invisible.
After repeating the same scenario on my return to the table I was not, it must be said, in my happy place. However, a glass of champagne appeared and a menu was thrust into my hand. A rather bargainous “three courses for £32” evening menu, as it happens, including said glass of bubbly and a generous supply of extremely good breads: let’s score that QP LDN 1, Davey’s Irritation 0.
While the choices on this early evening menu are understandably limited – a choice of three starters, three mains, two desserts of cheese – the results are anything but. Parmigiana di Melanzane QP (their take on the classic aubergine parmigiana) may be “deconstructed” – stifle that yawn – but it’s a pretty version of this comfort classic and the elements and ingredients involved are first rate. Even so, the decadent Calamaro Ripieno Di Provola – squid stuffed with cheese, with broccoli and cream of potato – won the battle of the first courses. Rich, cooked utterly on point, and clearly our charming waiter Alessandro’s favourite.
The other side of the table moved on to Salmone – seared salmon, scarola, anchovy dressing – and very, very good it was too. There aren’t many places to hide in a dish that simple but they weren’t needed, as there’s clearly talent in this kitchen. Similarly, Pasta Mista con Fagioli Borlotti – pasta, borlotti beans, with pecorino cheese – is about as simple as it gets, a “peasant” classic. The execution here was super, a culinary hug on a bitterly cold night.
Desserts were patchier. The Profiterols were superb (and demolished in a matter of seconds, almost before I got my spoon in) but the Millefoglie di Amarene – black cherry millefoglie with Chantilly cream – showed some pastry expertise in the millefoglie, but the filling was a little cloying for my tastes.
There were other faults too. In a restaurant this glamorous, with its big tables, mirrored walls and gleaming gold décor, serving food on chipped plates is a clunking great error. Similarly, signs to the toilets are crooked and kind of tacky looking. In many places, these things wouldn’t be particularly noticeable but here they jar, mostly because they’d be so easy to rectify.
Regardless, those are relatively minor gripes. There’s good cooking (and excellent baking) here, and while you might need expenses or someone else’s credit card to hit the full menu, the early evening deal is a thoroughly decent, well-priced experience.
34 Dover Street
London W1S 4NG